Washington, Feb 19 (IANS) Two specific cell populations, harvested from a patient's healthy bone marrow, are helping pave the way to bladder regeneration, says a new study.
Cells from the bone marrow are being used to recreate the organ's smooth muscle, vasculature, and nerve tissue, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
The research, led by Arun K. Sharma, research assistant professor in urology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and colleagues, offers an alternative to current tissue-engineering strategies.
"We are manipulating a person's own disease-free cells for bladder tissue reformation," said Sharma, member of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine, according to a Northwestern statement.
"We have used the spina bifida patient population as a proof of concept model because those patients typically have bladder dysfunction.
"However, this regeneration approach could be used for people suffering from a variety of bladder issues where the bone marrow micro-environment is deemed normal," added Sharma.
Spina bifida is a spinal cord disease; the nerves which carry messages between the bladder and the brain do not work properly, causing an inability to pass urine.
The most common surgical option, augmentation cystoplasty, involves placing a "patch" derived from an individual's bowel over a part of the diseased organ in order to increase its size.
But the procedure remains problematic because the bowel tissue introduces long-term complications like the development of electrolyte imbalance and bladder cancer. Because Sharma's procedure does not use bowel tissue, it offers the benefits of augmentation without long-term risks.